August 6, 2021


travel is natural.

Wine Place adds a luxury vacation resort in the center of a pandemic

Healdsburg, California (CNN) — The latest ultra-luxury resort in California Wine Country has a yoga lawn in the center of a winery, a visitor-friendly apiary method, a therapeutic massage with locally sourced olive oil and a unique glass-enclosed eating space that is cantilevered into the center of a 100-yr-aged oak tree.

Nonetheless, maybe the most noteworthy attribute of the new Montage Healdsburg in Sonoma County is that the 130-home vacation resort with costs setting up at $695 for every night opened in the center of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Technically, the 258-acre resort in this little-but-vibrant town opened previously this month (Dec. 12). Simply because that day also was the commence of the county’s latest shelter-in-put edict, occupancy is way underneath what management expected, and the hotel is appreciably restricted to “essential” vacationers only by purchase of the county general public well being officer.

When the purchase expires, friends will get pleasure from a single of the most highfalutin resorts in a hotspot complete of them.

Montage Healdsburg is rumored to have charge extra than $300 million, and it signifies the only luxurious resort on the west facet of the mountains that independent Napa and Sonoma. All the other people — which include Meadowood, which experienced damage through a the latest wildfire — are to the east, on the Napa facet.

The Healdsburg vacation resort also will develop into the initial Montage home in Northern California the hotel corporation presently manages four other inns in the United States (just one every single in California, Utah, Hawaii and South Carolina, with a fifth assets below building in Montana), as properly as a resort in Mexico and one particular beneath building in the Bahamas.

The Montage Healdsburg is a 258-acre luxury resort in Wine Country, opened as California was less than shelter-in-location orders.


“For all our resorts and accommodations, a feeling of put is the dominant concept as it relates to what we create, how we build it, and the locale it really is in,” stated Alan Fuerstman, founder and CEO of Montage Resorts & Resorts. “With Healdsburg we wanted to be agent of the Wine Country, be respectful of the land and emphasize vineyards, hills, oak trees and normal attractiveness. I consider we’ve completed that. Visitors will have to occur see for by themselves.”

Issues of opening throughout pandemic

Of class, no person at Montage at any time imagined the Healdsburg house would be creating its debut in the center of a world-wide pandemic.

Due to the fact April, the leisure and hospitality market has shed about 3.5 million jobs — a truly staggering quantity. Even though federal stimulus assisted companies remain afloat early in the pandemic, a latest survey from the American Lodge & Lodging Association showed that almost a few-quarters of hoteliers say they likely is not going to survive yet another six months without having more relief.

This conundrum surely is on Fuerstman’s head.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Vacation previously this month, he lamented the truth of opening during this difficult time. Fuerstman included that his group has created two distinct collection of changes — a person guiding-the-scenes that applies only to workforce and another for visitors.

The very first adjustment was tactical: Rather of having all-workers pep rallies and orientation, Normal Supervisor Allen Highfield and his team postponed the rallies and broke down these preliminary interactions into smaller-group masked and socially distanced settings, at times even masked a person-on-kinds. Fuerstman reported this expected a little bit of a leap of religion, given that most of the personnel had in no way finished early-stage arranging any other way.

“A hotel like this is crafted for generations to arrive,” he reported. “It really is not about a flashy grand opening or the factors that would typically accompany the opening of a vacation resort like this. We are concentrated on offering as safe and sound of an working experience as we can and adapting as the ecosystem improvements.”

The lobby of the Montage Healdsburg

The lobby of the Montage Healdsburg


The next adjustment has meant educating visitors about how and where they can have an authentic Montage working experience throughout this time. Specifically, Fuerstman reported his team is displaying company how the hotel’s safeguards can secure them from exposure to Covid-19. Some of these safety measures are extremely easy. Since no building at the vacation resort is extra than two tales tall, attendees do not have to worry about elevators.

Fuerstman added that considering the fact that each and every home has a personal entrance, attendees have been turning to room provider eating in a massive way — and liking it as an alternate.

“Health and security is our No. 1 problem,” Fuerstman reported.

Lay of the land

The latest Montage sits in the northernmost part of Healdsburg, a city of around 11,000 individuals. Healdsburg has come to be a mainstay on just about just about every “Ideal Destinations to Stay” list. It is, without query, the best vacation spot in all of Wine Nation.

Rooms at Montage Healdsburg are laid out campus-model, with personal models lining a secluded bowl in which the main constructing sits at the center. Most visitor rooms are about 650 sq. ft, and each individual has its possess private patio. Artwork from area artists will be shown on the walls.

There are 34 suites of various measurements. The major accommodation, The Guest Property, is extra than 4,600 sq. toes and offers three bedrooms, a personal patio and a non-public incredibly hot tub.

An outdoor shower reflects the openness of the Montage Healdsburg resort.

An outside shower displays the openness of the Montage Healdsburg resort.


The main lodge, with jaw-dropping views of Mount St. Helena to the east, comprises the primary lobby, two eating places, meeting space, a typical retail outlet, a bar and an open up-air patio with bocce and other diversions. Close by, a different developing residences the local chapter of Paintbox, the Montage kids’ club.

Due to the fact the resort was developed on previously untrammeled land, Highfield said Montage needed to produce a vibe that would rejoice the encompassing landscape. The outcome is a style that blends with and demonstrates off the scenic natural beauty of Sonoma County.

In the primary lodge, for instance, guests dine at Hazel Hill, a “terroir-to-desk” restaurant that overlooks the resort’s winery, dozens upon dozens of oak trees, and some of the picturesque hills of the 2,000-acre Jordan Winery estate.

1 part of the restaurant — a non-public dining area — is cantilevered out into an historical oak. A wall of Scout Field Bar in the foyer has windows that fold away to allow the outside in.

Company can delight in in the same way spectacular sights from the zero-edge pool at the 11,500-square-foot spa seeking out on the grandeur, you sense like you have surfaced at an oasis in the wilderness.

Even receiving close to the property is calm. Almost nothing is extra than five minutes from nearly anything else, and guests drop their cars at the main valet on check-in and stroll or use golf carts to navigate the resort from there.

Hazel Hill, a "terroir-to-table" restaurant that in the main building of the Montage Healdsburg, overlooks the resort's vineyard

Hazel Hill, a “terroir-to-table” restaurant that in the principal developing of the Montage Healdsburg, overlooks the resort’s vineyard


“It seriously is a good area to appear and completely unplug,” Highfield stated.

The winery is managed by Jesse Katz, a growing star in the wine planet who is the owner of Aperture Cellars on the other side of Healdsburg and not long ago was named as Wine Spectrum’s 2020 Winemaker of the Year.

Katz also masterminded one particular bottle of a 2015 cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc blend that marketed at a substantial-end charity auction for $350,000 in 2017, continue to an industry record for a 750-milliliter bottle.

What is actually next

As soon as the area shelter-in-put order expires, and when the resort can welcome visitors with open arms, GM Highfield said it is most likely to start various a great deal-anticipated guest packages.

Fittingly, the first revolves about wine, and Katz.

The 36-calendar year-old vintner ideas to use grapes from the property to make estate wines only out there on website (and, likely, at other Montage qualities). He expects to carry out regular talks and tastings with friends on-website. Katz has been consulting on the task for several years and stated the chance to improve grapes on 14 acres in the middle of the Alexander Valley is exceptional.

“There are not a good deal of initiatives of this sizing that would let me go no-retains-barred on high-quality and focus to depth and let me do what I want from viticulture to winemaking,” he said, noting that some blocks of winery are planted so densely that crews will have to select the vines by hand, rather of with a tractor.

The resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Business (SCBC), a regional apiary administration business, to operate its five-hive bee program formulated to create honey for the eating places and wax for the spa.

As aspect of this partnership, SCBC founder Candice Koseba will make regular visits to the resort to give demonstrations to interested attendees. Koseba mentioned most of her talks will spotlight a log hive — a special form of hive in a hollowed-out log. Company will never be ready to operate with bees, but this particular log hive will have a Plexiglas wall so site visitors can see what the bees are carrying out inside of.

“It will be a fascinating viewpoint, for certain,” Koseba claimed. “Not a lot of people today get to see inside of a hive.”

The resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Company to offer guest demonstrations.

The vacation resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Business to offer visitor demonstrations.

Christian Horan Pictures

Montage Healdsburg also before long will roll out a two-pronged bicycle program, a beloved amenity for a resort in the center of what neighborhood gearheads get in touch with “Ride Country.” The vacation resort delivers e-bikes for newbie riders and cost-free road bikes from Scott Bikes for friends who are passionate about street biking. There’s even an on-website bike technician to make positive all the gear retains working smoothly.

Highfield reported he’s “psyched” to get the vacation resort up and functioning at total velocity, but also understands that at least for now, with Covid-19 case quantities on the increase throughout California, there is certainly only so considerably that he and his workforce can do.

“We search forward to currently being a safe and sound put of consolation and a respite for our local community, neighbors and past when the time is appropriate,” he claimed.

Journey to the big time

To be apparent, the resort’s origin tale just isn’t with no hiccups or controversy.

Fuerstman 1st frequented the site in 2005, and the project began in earnest 5 yrs soon after that. Design has been going solid considering the fact that early 2018, inspite of a collection of problems.

Some of the difficulties have been regulatory in character. Previously this month, the web site developer gained a good of $6.4 million — the maximum payment in the history of the northern section of the San Francisco Bay Area — for environmental violations tied to resort building for the duration of the winter of late 2018 and early 2019.

The 38 violations place forward by regulators provided inadequate erosion management steps documented above a number of months by water high quality investigators. Prosecutors reported just about 9.4 million gallons of prohibited runoff and sediment-stuffed stormwater escaped the construction internet site and into streams of the Russian River watershed.

Even though the wonderful wasn’t levied in opposition to Montage, it nonetheless lifted neighborhood eyebrows about the brand’s commitment to the upcoming.

Other troubles have been political in mother nature. The undertaking, once referred to regionally as Saggio Hills, has been achieved with indefatigable skepticism from a smaller-but-vocal group of locals who wonder how Montage clientele who are paying out up to $1,000 for every night time can and will contribute positively to the regional economic climate.

Previous Healdsburg Mayor Brigette Mansell has been just one of the staunchest critics.

By no means shy to share an viewpoint, Mansell has hammered social media internet sites with problems about how the new resort allows the folks of Healdsburg, quite a few of whom can barely afford to dwell in their hometown.

“I am considerably less worried and far more committed to vigilance,” she wrote in a modern electronic mail assertion. “I know the project’s historical past and the negotiated conditions. Mainly because of these extremely-luxurious resorts, the wealth necessitates social accountability.”

When questioned about this criticism, Fuerstman insisted the vacation resort is executing all the things it can to maintain locals front-of-head.

Especially, he cited the point that a lot of resort employees are living in and around Healdsburg and observed that the hotel has strived to establish associations with regional restaurateurs, winemakers and artisans to increase and amplify the Healdsburg vibe into every visitor home. Two illustrations: Flying Goat Coffee, roasted in Healdsburg, will be the house brew and path blend from the Female & The Fig cafe in Sonoma will be accessible for buy across the home.

“We consider a fantastic vacation resort needs to be the centerpiece of a neighborhood and not an outlier,” Fuerstman explained. “My check out of accomplishment is when just about every neighborhood feels they’re a component of the vacation resort, and they clearly show it off to friends and website visitors with wonderful pleasure.”

Tallia Hart, CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & People Bureau, tried out to put the opening into viewpoint from which all people could reward.

“We are fortuitous to have a Montage in our local community,” she mentioned. “This is an awesome house that will contribute to the financial vitality of Healdsburg. The Montage is a world course brand that will make use of several hundred persons that assist the community economy in a wide variety of techniques. We are happy to have them as a partner and glance ahead to having them be section of our beautiful city.”